Busy Season, Quiet Heart



There are so many beautiful traditions and holidays (holy days!) that we celebrate in winter, and I love the music, sparkle, and extra enthusiasm of them all.  It’s a wonderful thing to party with your peeps, decorate your world, and unwrap surprises.

There’s a flip side though, isn’t there?  One party becomes 3 or 4, one shopping trip or extra activity becomes another--and another.  There’s an enchanted hush that falls over the natural world in winter, but we have to be still to feel it.  We have to stop.  We have to breathe, and notice.  It can be tricky to balance the excitement with the peace when it seems like everyone around us wants to go, go, go.  If you’re young, it might be more than tricky--if adults have final say over your schedule, it might be almost impossible.

But you can always find a moment.

Magic doesn’t have to be expensive or epic.  Winter magic is in tiny, silent, snowflake moments--and all we have to do is notice it.

It’s actually very, very natural to crave coziness and a slower pace this time of year. Appreciating our gifts and blessings, the loveliness of pine trees and snow, the hopeful feeling of lighting up a dark night can be plenty of holiday “doing.” If you love the gentler side of celebrating, you are not alone.  Not at all.

Even our modern, festive “go, go, going” has roots in simple observing and connecting to nature. Seasonal foods, plants and trees, glowing light, loving gatherings, gifts and offerings are the peaceful basics that so many of our traditions are built on.

And of course, our shared belief in miracles and magic.

So remember to think in moments this season.  A moment to rest. To wander. To be quiet. To look for the brightest star. To smell a sharp, sweet spruce tree.  To watch a wavering candle flame.  Listen to your heart and make up a quiet tradition of your own.  You can always find the stillness.  And then the winter magic will find you.

Art Project: Let it Fall

It’s fall where I live.  Early days still, but you can feel the autumn-ness in everything.  The leaves are glowing yellow, with tiny bits of burgundy and fiery red.  It smells earthy, and acorns are crunching under feet and tires.  The geese are going by in their vees, honkity-honking.  I love noticing all the changes.

I even notice changes in myself.

Though our culture has it a bit backwards (with so much beginning in the fall!), autumn is a time where we have a natural pull inward, and a feeling that we want to slow down and do a little bit more noticing.  The summer has us moving, playing, interacting, growing.  When fall comes, there’s a shift.  Less adding to our lives, or our stuff, and more reflecting on who we are, what we’ve already done, and maybe even saying some goodbyes.

It’s even a really natural time to let yourself feel sad if you need to.  The energy of fall will be soft and misty around you if you want to have a good cry about something.  It will be strong and cool and apple-scented to lift you up after you’ve been grieving or missing somebody you’ve lost.

And just like the trees feel ready to let their leaves turn and fall, I feel things in myself that I’m ready to let go of—because I know that letting go makes space.  For rest.  For new adventures I want to have, new parts of myself I want to get to know better.  I love to take this time to remember who I was at the beginning of the year, and really be amazed at how I’ve changed and all I’ve been through.  I try to release ideas and plans and deadlines that aren’t helping me love myself and be happy.  I let go of time I’m spending with people or situations that don’t feel healthy.  If I’ve been trying to change myself for someone else, I use my reflecting time to figure out why, and I put my heart back into being ME.

Now sometimes all these thoughts and feelings come and go, and there’s not much you need to do but think and feel them.  But often there’s a magic (especially at times like season changes!) in making those feelings into things you can see and touch.  Expressing what’s inside, letting it exist outside you, is a really powerful way to feel whole and balanced.

Making something is a kind of sacred creative ritual that helps you feel connected to all the souls out there who have felt—are feeling!—the autumn-ness too.

One of my ways of doing this is painting, which seems to go perfectly with the little leaf canvasses that are all around us.  If you want to try this Let it Fall Weekend Project, here’s what you’ll need:

1. Your thoughts  (I wrote a few pages in my journal and made a little list of things I was ready to let go of in my life.  Do whatever feels best to you as far as how long you give yourself to think about it, and whether or not you write your thoughts down.)

2. Leaves

3. Paint (I used a few colors that felt connected to some of the things I wanted to let go, and some that were just my favorites.)

4. Brushes & Water (And a place you can get a little messy—maybe a big piece of paper for underneath your leaves.)

I decided to just kind of softly hold my list in my mind while I painted, but you could choose to have each leaf represent one specific thing.  Or you could write your ‘letting go’ thoughts on your leaves, then paint over them.  Anything that feels good to you is perfect here.

Once my leaves were dried, I set them out on my bedside table to remind me that all of who I was, all of what has happened in my life—even things I want to (or have to) let go of, become beautiful like autumn leaves.  Just like those leaves they are lovely as they fall, and they turn into nutrients and blessings for my future.